Who We Are

Posner Lab

Who We Are

Jonathan E. Posner, M.D.
Director, Posner Lab
Suzanne Crosby Murphy Associate Professor of Psychiatry at CUMC

Jonathan Posner, MD, received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and his medical degree from the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Posner completed his training in clinical psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University (NYSPI/CU) and his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). He is board certified in adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry and is an Associate Professor of Clinic Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

After completing his clinical training, Dr. Posner began a research program investigating the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders affecting children. His research laboratory, by combining the use of brain imaging and clinical trials, aims to help in the development of novel and more effective treatments for childhood disorders. His laboratory has received funding from multiple sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the Edwin S. Webster Foundation, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation.

Jiook Cha
Research Scientist
Assistant Professor of Neurobiology

Dr. Cha studies the brain circuitry of maladaptive emotion and cognition across the lifespan. His goal is to develop an imaging-based assay for brain disorders that can be used in clinical settings. To this end, his current research focuses on assessing functional neuroanatomy in normal and disease states.   Dr. Cha uses interdisciplinary science, such as brain imaging (e.g. MRI), cognitive and affective neuroscience (e.g., threat-safety learning), mathematical modeling (e.g., Bayesian learning theory), high-throughput image analysis (e.g., functional and structural connectivity or connectome mapping) using parallel computing, and computational analysis (e.g., machine learning). He studied Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Korea University (Bachelor of Science), Neurobiology at Catholic University of Korea (Master of Science), and Neuroscience at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (PhD; Advisor: Dr. Lillianne Mujica-Parodi). In 2016, he completed his postdoctoral research fellowship in the Posner Lab (directed by Dr. Jonathan E. Posner) and an NIMH–supported T32 research fellowship in the Eating Disorders Program (directed by Drs. Evelyn Attia and B. Timothy Walsh). In 2016, he started training in Patient-Oriented Research via the Career Development Award (KL2) supported by NIH CTSA (Clinical Translational Science Award) and the Irving Institute at Columbia University. In the same year, Dr. Cha was appointed as Assistant Professor of Neurobiology. His research has been funded by NIMH (K01), NARSAD (Young Investigator Award), Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association (Young Investigator Award), CU-the University of Glasgow (Research Exchange Fellowship), and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (Pilot MRI awards). 

Elizabeth Raffanello, M.P.H.

Elizabeth Raffanello, PhD, MPH

Lab Manager

Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University in clinical psychology and community health. She then went on to receive a Master of Public Health in social and behavioral sciences from Yale School of Public Health. Elizabeth later completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY. Her dissertation focused on emotion regulation and psychological symptoms in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Elizabeth received training in second wave and third wave behavioral therapies during her doctoral program. She also gained clinical experience in outpatient and inpatient settings, where she conducted assessments and provided psychotherapy to clients with a range of psychological disorders. Elizabeth's research interests include psychological and cognitive assessment, psychiatric epidemiology, emotion regulation, stress and coping, and adjustment to chronic disease.

David Semanek, B.A., HCISPP

David Semanek, BA, HCISPP

Research Technician

David received a BA in experimental psychology with a concentration in visual perception from Columbia University in 2005. He recently earned the HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner certification from (ISC)2. His main professional interests are MRI data acquisition and processing methods, as well as research data management and security. David came to NYSPI in 2008 and has worked on a diverse collection of MRI studies covering mood and attention disorders, autism, toxin exposure, infant and childhood development, and both prescription drugs and drugs of abuse. David’s long-term goals focus on the advancement of data-management techniques and data exchange for the field of MRI research, with an emphasis on maintaining high standards of information security and integrity.

Walter Hinds

Walter Hinds, PhD

Data Analyst

Walter Hinds, PhD, is a data analyst for the Posner Lab. He received his Bachelor of Science from Cornell University in biomedical engineering before going on to complete his doctorate in neural engineering at Drexel University. His thesis focused on monitoring intractable epilepsy patients with intracranial electrodes and translating this clinical research into future neurosurgical interventions. His work resulted in a novel algorithm to enhance the co-registration of MRI and CT inter-modality images thereby improving electrode localization accuracy. While analyzing electrophysiological data, he developed an artificial-intelligence-based protocol for automatically detecting an elusive biomarker for seizures called the high-frequency oscillation. His research interests include machine learning, multimodal imaging, and translational research.

Claudia Lugo-Candelas

Claudia Lugo-Candelas, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Claudia Lugo-Candelas, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in translational research training in child psychiatry. She obtained her PhD from the clinical psychology program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her earlier graduate work explored the influence of culture in parents’ emotion socialization practices. Her dissertation focused on better understanding the neural correlates of emotion processing in preschoolers with hyperactivity, as well as in typically developing populations. Dr. Lugo-Candelas is interested in better understanding, at the neural and behavioral levels, what factors (individual, familial, and cultural) contribute to emotion dysregulation and the pathways and mechanisms though which dysregulation develops into psychopathology in preschoolers. She recently completed her clinical internship at the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx.

Tamara Sussman

Tamara Sussman, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Tamara Sussman is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree, and from Stony Brook University with a PhD in clinical psychology. While at Stony Brook, she conducted research examining the impact of emotional stimuli on visual perception and associated brain activity in normal function and in anxiety. She also provided treatment for a broad range of disorders, including anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and depression. During her internship at the Rutgers University Counseling Center, she provided treatment to a diverse group of university students, and received specialized training in the treatment of trauma-related disorders.

Yun Wang, PhD

Yun Wang, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Yun Wang, PhD, joined the Posner Lab as a postdoctoral research fellow after completing her PhD in electrical and computer engineering at Auburn University. Dr. Wang's undergraduate training was in electrical engineering at Central South University in China. Dr. Wang's research interests include multimodal imaging, resting fMRI data analysis, and machine learning.

Negar Fatahi

Negar Fatahi, MA

Research Assistant

Negar received her BA in psychology and social behavior from the University of California, Irvine. She later received an MA from New York University in general psychology, with an emphasis on child development. She previously worked with the New York Department of Education to assess social and emotional readiness inside classrooms and provide data to policy makers who were implementing an expansion of the Free Pre-K for All program. She is interested in social and emotional development in typically and atypically developing children and plans to pursue a PhD in applied developmental psychology.

Susie Hong, B.S.

Susie Hong, BS

Research Assistant

Susie graduated from Binghamton University in 2015 with a BS in integrative neuroscience. Susie first joined NYSPI as a volunteer for Dr. Posner’s lab in 2014. Currently, Susie is responsible for coordinating Dr. Posner’s research studies, which primarily investigate the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of ADHD treatments. She is interested in studying and improving the diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.

Sarah Pieper

Sarah Pieper, BA

Research Assistant

Sarah Pieper has joiner the Posner Lab as a research assistant. She graduated from Smith College in 2018 with a BA in psychology and a minor in education and child study. She has worked with children with developmental disorders in the past and, while at Smith, she worked in a research lab focused on child language acquisition. Those experiences clarified her desire to work in research involving children and their mental health. She is interested in research that investigates the mechanisms of psychiatric disorders and how to effectively treat them in children and adolescents. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology in the future.

Sarah X. Rojas

Sarah X. Rojas, BS

Research Assistant

Sarah X. Rojas recently joined Dr. Posner’s lab as a research assistant and will assist in multiple research studies concerning childhood disorders. Sarah received a BS in communication sciences and disorders from Pennsylvania State University in 2016. She previously worked in the social work field outside Philadelphia and is now completing her masters in neuroscience and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include neuropsychology, child psychopathology, and minority mental health. Sarah plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical neuropsychology.